Friday, November 24, 2006

This Day In Music History: Ringo Starr and Photograph

On November 24, 1973 Ringo Starr topped the Billboard charts for 1 week with his song Photograph. When the Beatles broke up Ringo was the one that many thought would not have a successful solo career. In an interview John Lennon said “I’m most happy, I guess we all are, for Ringo’s success. It always went ‘round that Ringo was dumb, but he ain’t dumb. But he didn’t have that much of a writing ability and he wasn’t known for writing his own material. And there was a bit of a worry that although he can make movies…how was his recording career gonna be? And in general, it’s probably better than mine.”

It’s not surprising that they would be worried about Ringo’s recording career. He was always overshadowed by the writing efforts of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. He had the fewest lead vocals. When he did sing lead on songs like Act Naturally, Yellow Submarine and With A Little Help From My Friends they were well received by the fans. Ringo had a better recording career then the others in the early 1970’s. Of his first 8 singles to make the charts 7 of them made the top 10.

Ringo’s first album was an album of standards called Sentimental Journey produced by George Martin. The arrangers were considered a group of all stars that included Paul McCartney, Maurice Gibb and Richard Perry. His second album was a country album called Beaucoups of Blues. The title track was his first single. It made the Billboard top 100 but only got to #87. His second single turned things around when he had a hit with It Don’t Come Easy. It was produced by George Harrison and peaked at #4. Ringo’s solo recording career was now off and running.

In 1973 Richard Perry asked Ringo if he would be a presenter in Nashville at the Grammy Awards. When Ringo accepted the invitation Mr. Perry said he wasn’t calling just to invite him to Nashville for the Grammies. He also reminded Ringo that they always talked about going into the studio together to record. So without out telling their lawyers they went into an L.A. studio and recorded 5 songs for his next album. One of those was Photograph which Ringo wrote with his occasional writing partner and occasional producer from the Beatles George Harrison. George as well as John Lennon were both in Los Angles at the time. When they heard about the project they offered to play on the tracks. The title of the album was RINGO. When Paul McCartney contributed his help on other songs it was something of an unofficial Beatles reunion. The only thing that made sure it was not a reunion was that all four were never on the same song.

Photograph was the first single from the album. It is such a strong song that it was released 6 weeks before the album. Seven weeks later it was the #1 song in the country.

When you think of great Beatle ballads many songs come to mind. Yesterday would represent Paul. In My Life represents John. George is represented by the song Something. Ringo would have to be represented by Photograph. It may have come after the break up but it represents Ringo well. It is just as big a standard as the songs written by John, Paul and George have become.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

This Day In Music History: Billy Swan and I Can Help

On November 23, 1974 Billy Swan had the #1 song on the Billboard Charts with I Can Help. Mr. Swan started his musical career at 16. He wrote a poem in school and a couple of years later it was recorded when it was set to music. The song that it became was Lover Please and it was a big hit. Billy said that spoiled him and he thought show business was the easiest business in the world. Billy moved from Cape Giradeau, Missouri to Memphis, Tenn. to continue his songwriting career. When he got to town the first thing he did was drive past Elvis home. After he had been in Memphis for awhile he went back to Graceland and got to know Elvis’ Uncle Travis Smith. Travis watched the gate for Elvis. Billy told him he was a songwriter and looking for a place to stay. Billy said “There was an empty room at his place so I ended up living there…I even ended up watching the gate sometimes late at night so Travis could go home for a bit.”

Later Billy moved to Nashville and got a job as a recording assistant. He quit during the recording of Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album. He gave his job to Kris Kristofferson. Billy and Kris became good friends and he wrote I Can Help on a little RMI organ that Kris and Rita Coolidge gave him and his wife as a wedding gift. Billy said “So I was just sitting at the organ and started playin’ chords and pretty soon the words came out…I did it in two takes and didn’t even overdub the vocals-just stood up and played the organ and sang.”

When I was a kid the only place I heard the song was at the skating rink. When I do hear it on the radio now I can’t help but feel someone should be saying “All skate please! All skate!” over a loudspeaker. In my mind that is part of the beginning of the song.

After his song was a hit Billy was a guest on many shows. It was when he hosted the Midnight Special that his name was in lights behind him. He said “It’s sort of like a dream come true, like the little boy in Johnny B. Goode, whose Mother says, ‘Maybe someday your name will be in lights saying Johnny B. Goode tonight.”

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

This Day In Music History: KC and the Sunshine Band and That's the Way (I Like It)

On November 22, 1975 the song that topped the Billboard charts was That’s the Way (I Like It) by KC and the Sunshine Band. KC, whose real name is Harry Wayne Casey, said that the version that was released to the public was much tamer then the original version. KC said that the song was a little too risqué for 1975. He said “…And I thought boy wait till my Mother hears this one!” He had to clean it up considerably. Still KC’s Mom may not have been as shocked as he thought. She was a long time music fan. She was into rhythm and blues and loved Jerry Butler, Nat ‘King’ Cole and the Flamingos. KC grew up listening to them and later fell in love with the Motown sound of Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, James Brown etc.

KC’s musical roots served him well when he had to play in concert. He was not use to playing keyboards while singing at the same time. However, he learned quickly and was praised by the New York Times. “In person they are one of the most exciting groups performing today. On stage KC becomes truly possessed by his rhythms…This is no insecure Caucasian kid mimicking black inflections, exhorting a crowd to put your hands together.” Like Elvis before him KC has the presence and musical ability to bridge cultural gaps with his audience.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Star Trek: The Animated Series

In this 40th anniversary of Star Trek we almost forget the indivual anniversaries. I am speaking mostly about Star Trek: The Animated Series. This is the 33rd anniversary of the Animated Series. It premired in the Fall of 1973. Since then it has been a point of contention with Star Trek fans. Of those on film the regular shows and the movies are considered part of the Star Trek legacy but many fans don't consider the animated series part of it. I however do. I mean why not? I also consider the novels and the comic books part of it. My those Enterprise crew members were a busy group. The cartoon series was aired from 1973 to 1974. I could be wrong but I remember seeing it in 1975. Perhaps they reran it for a year after it won an Emmy. Yes it won the coveted award that even the original series didn't win. Most of the cast came back as voice actors for the series. Some of them could not been in the studio when it was recorded. Most cartoon series gather the whole cast together for recording sessions but in this case they recorded seperately. DeForest Kelley said that he recoded his in the car on a cassette recorder when he was in traffic. If you want to enjoy some Star Trek stories that you probably haven't seen before then you can buy it now. The Animated Series is released on DVD in the stores tomorrow. You can get it at Just click on one of the links on the right to take you there.

Goober as Spock?

I noticed that a few people are coming to this site recently when searching for something about George Lindsey as Spock. For those of you who are I feel I should tell you that it is a joke. Remember they also ask William Shatner what his favorite episode was and he responded with his favorite from the Brady Bunch not Star Trek. The whole behind the scenes of Star Trek on TV Land is a joke. Disappointing for serious Trek fans like myself. I thought I was going to hear something I hadn't heard before. For the record I have read that the first choice for Mr. Spock was Martin Landau. He turned it down and Mr. Nimoy got the part. Ironically, when Mr. Landau quit his role on Mission: Impossible, he played Rollin Hand on the show from 1966-1969, he was replaced by a character named Paris. Paris was played by Leonard Nimoy who was with the show from 1969-1971. Also on Mission:Impossible his best friend on the show was Jim Phelps. On Star Trek Mr. Nimoy's best friend was named Captain Jim Kirk. They both had the same first name of Jim. It almost seems like the part Mr. Nimoy was destined to play was Paris as well as Spock.

Mid-Ohio Con

Just like booksteve I will not be able to attend the Mid-Ohio Con this year. I wanted to attend to see the stars of Three's Company as well as Herb Trimpe. I was having a hard time finding a travel companion, at the time Steve was not sure that he could get time off work. Suddenly Mr. Trimpe, the main reason for me to go, canceled. With that in mind I didn't set aside any money to go. Suddenly, Mr. Trimpe cleared his schedule. Now he is attending. I still can't. A last minute trip is out of the question as I now have to attend a family meeting on Saturday. Perhaps on Sunday afternoon. In case you don't see me and you get to meet Herb Trimpe please tell him Rick Phillips of On My Mind says hi!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Two Cents: Casino Royale

Well it's that season again. No I'm not reffering to Thanksgiving or Christmas. I'm referring to time for movie audiences to get a new James Bond. Unlike other Bonds, I have never seen British actor Daniel Craig in any movies so I am not sure what he has done before. I have heard that he was in Road to Perdition. Mr. Craig does well in the role and hopefully this will not be the last time we see him as James Bond. With this movie all Ian Fleming's books have been made into films. Now they may get movies made from the books that other writers did on Bond or perhaps they will write new movies on their own for the studio.
The movie Casino Royale had been made before for another studio but as a comedy with David Niven, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen. So in a way this might be considered a remake but the plot is completely different. In the David Niven film Mr. Niven is James Bond retired. Peter Sellers is an agent given the new name of James Bond but he is not able to live up to the legend. He is even accidentally killing the women he is trying to suduce. They team up to battle the evil genius trying to take over the world. It turns out it is James nephew Jimmy Bond played by Woody Allen. He is sriking back at the world because like Sellers character he was not able to live up to the legend of being named James Bond. It is a funny movie but also a very 60's movie with the dance scenes and very psychedelic.
This movie has Bond facing a professional investor and gambler who uses his profits and winnings to finance terriorist groups. The movie is really about the orgins of James Bond. When we meet Mr. Bond he is already a agent but does not have double 0 status. In order to get there you have to kill at least 2 enemies and we see the first 2 kills. We see how he develops his taste for his favorite drink. His first Astin Martin and his first tux. He also gets his first introduction to his future friend Felix Lighter. Over the years Felix has changed race. Usually he is white but twice he is African American. I don't want to say much more as I don't want to give away any surprises. If you want to see this film then you won't be dissappointed. It has it all action, romance, danger, intrigue and humor. It also has a leading man who was up to the challange. The only thing that was missing was John Cleese. I kept waiting for him to show up but he never did. Maybe next time.